Under Armour plans to join other large employers in boosting minimum wages for thousands of its hourly workers to $15 per hour, a move designed to keep the brand competitive in attracting in-demand store and warehouse workers.
More than 8,000 full- and part-time employees and seasonal workers at stores and warehouses will get raises starting June 6, including those who earn minimum wage now and those earning more than the minimum, the Baltimore-based athletic apparel maker announced Wednesday.
The workers, both in the U.S. and Canada, represent nearly 90% of the brand’s retail and distribution workforce and half its global workforce. The remaining 10% already earn $15 per hour or more. Workers in Canada will be paid a minimum of $15.25 per hour.
The sports apparel maker called those workers “the backbone of Under Armour’s business” and said it had been a difficult year for front-line retail workers during the pandemic.
The wage increase could mean a pay raise of up to 50% for some workers, a boost from the current minimum of $10 an hour.
Other large private employers such as Amazon, Costco, Target and Walmart already have boosted base wages to $15 an hour. Johns Hopkins, Baltimore’s largest private employer, said earlier this month that it plans to increase the minimum wage at its university and health system to $15 an hour.
Bank of America said Tuesday that it would boost its minimum wage to $25 an hour by 2025. The bank raised its minimum to $15 in 2017 and $20 in 2019.
Meanwhile, the national minimum wage remains $7.25 an hour. In Maryland, however, it’s $11.75 and will increase every year until it reaches $15 in 2025.
Under Armour said it hoped the wage increases would foster a professional environment and attract the best employees to help advance the brand’s direct-to-consumer efforts. Those selling channels, through company-owned stores and websites, represent one of the company’s biggest growth opportunities and a core part of its business strategy.
The brand needed to make a strategic decision on hourly wages to be a competitive employer in retail, said Stephanie Pugliese, president of the Americas at Under Armour.
Retail workers “are the ambassadors of our brand,” Pugliese said in an interview. “They are meeting our consumers, our athletes every single day face-to-face and serving, most directly, our consumers.”
This past year, with store closures and the fallout of the pandemic, has been especially hard for those workers, she said.
And “we like many others are absolutely experiencing the competitive environment for hiring new people into the brand,” she said. “We want to make sure that we are giving our team and our brand an advantage in bringing on new and great talent that will match the great talent that we already have.”
The company said it needs an additional 3,000 employees in its stores, especially as it ramps up for the back-to-school and holiday seasons in the second half of the year. Jobs are open for salespeople, store managers and stockers. All would start at the $15 hourly rate.
“We are committed to doing the right thing, and at the center of our commitment is ensuring our teammates feel valued and appreciated,” said Patrik Frisk, Under Armour’s CEO and president.
Over the next year, Under Armour said it plans to put in place an hourly worker incentive plan and additional measures to enhance compensation and learning and development.